Native Canadians fight for land rights

Suburban sprawl has encroached on the once-pristine wilderness of southern Ontario’s Six Nations Reserve — and the residents of Canada’s First Nations that live there have had enough. Since February, hundreds of Native protestors have blocked roads, lit bonfires, confronted police, raised traditional First Nation flags, destroyed national flags (gasp!), donned fatigues, and refused to obey court orders to vacate. “Through the years, our people said, ‘You can come here, you can settle here,’ but that didn’t mean they could take over,” says reserve resident Hazel Hill. The Six Nations — Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Tuscarora — have filed 29 land claims since the 1970s, and only one has been settled. The current occupation has convinced the provincial government to buy the disputed land from developers, and the two sides will soon begin negotiating a settlement. Meanwhile, tensions remain high, and the protests have paralyzed the local economy.